In post-Harvey Houston, Insurance Has Created a New Gap Between the Haves and Have Nots

HOUSTON — On a recent sunny Thursday, Petra Cervantes swept her front porch and shooed away a stray dog with a piggie-slippered foot. Since Hurricane Harvey destroyed her home, life has been rough for Cervantes and her family of six. Until earlier this month, they were living in a tent on the porch. "At least we have this," she said, motioning to the concrete floor and the scalloped metal roof above. The new porch was a splurge before the storm, envisioned as a play area for her toddler grandsons. Cervantes, 57, never expected the cement slab to become their new home. Like an estimated 80 percent of those who lost homes in Harvey, the Cervantes family did not have flood insurance. They were never told they needed it — not by the bank, or anyone else, since she bought the home nearly three decades ago. After the storm, two vastly different paths to recovery have emerged in Houston. On one are those who had flood insurance. On the other are those who didn't. Driving through affected neighborhoods, it's easy to see the contrast in progress between neighbors. Piles of construction debris — slabs of wood, pipes and old carpet padding — sit outside one home, while the house next door is already nearly back to normal.   Continue reading...

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